Troika Says Greek Proposal Not Enough To Meet Targets, Serves As “Basis For Negotiations”
Early on Saturday morning, the Tsipras government passed the Greek bailout proposal which it told the Greek people to reject – which they did – less than a week earlier. The grotesque farce continued until the very end when 15 Syriza lawmakers who voted yes said they nonetheless are against the reform package and expressed their opposition to the government’s proposal in a joint statement issued immediately after the vote in parliament.
Seemingly unclear how this “democracy” thing works in the country that supposedly invented it only to spawn its biggest mutant yet, the “dissenters” added that they voted for the proposal in order not to give an excuse for the undermining of Alexis Tsipras government. What they really meant is what the angry people finally crack down on yet another government, they hope to have a get out of jail card. Literally.
Other were far more vocal in their condemnation of the capitulation: Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, Deputy Labour Minister Dimitris Stratoulis as well as the speaker of parliament, Zoe Constantopoulou, all called “Present”, in effect abstaining from the vote and withholding their support from the government. “The government is being totally blackmailed to acquiesce to something which does not reflect what it represents,” Constantopoulou said.
At the end of the vote, the Tsipras government narrowly escaped the loss of a parliamentary majority, as 17 Syriza lawmakers, which holds 149 seats in parliament, abstained, were absent or voted no. Among legislators who were absent were former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis (who went on holiday earlier to his wife’s island vacation house), Speaker of Parliament Zoe Konstantopoulou (who penned the famous Greek “Odius Debt” declaration) and two cabinet ministers.
The ruling coalition’s parliamentary majority was saved by the deputies of the right-wing Independent Greeks, who hold 13 seats in parliament. Additionally the three opposition parties handed Tsipras the mandate to negotiate and bring back a debt deal.
In any event, despite winning backing from lawmakers Tsipras now faces rebellion in his own party that could threaten his majority in parliament because while 10 Syriza deputies either abstained or voted against the measures another 7 were not present, leaving Tsipras short of the 151 seats needed for a majority of his own which means the next crisis in Athens will be a parliamentarian.
But while we will cross that bridge eventually, for now the ball is in the Troika’s court (and yes, with Greece fully capitulation to the Troika we can now call the creditors by their rightful name: The Troika, which as a reminder, was the only “concession” won by the Tsipras team).
Here reports are conflicting, even if split according to Europe’s (and the US) conventional pro and anti-debt reduction axes.
According to Reuters, the Troika told Eurozone governments that proposals from Greece for a bailout loan are a basis for negotiation, an EU official said on Saturday. “The three institutions have made a first joint assessment of the Greek reform proposals submitted Thursday night. Under certain conditions, they jointly see the proposals as a basis for negotiating an ESM program. This assessment was sent to the Eurogroup president last night,” the official said.
That recommendation is an important step before the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers meets at 1300 GMT in Brussels to decide on Athens’ request for help from their European Stability Mechanism bailout fund. Ministers’ advisers are due to meet in the Euro Working Group at 0800 GMT.
Of course, nobody doubted that the proposal which falls back to what the Troika itself submitted two weeks ago, would be the “basis” for talks. The question is what the final draft will look like.
And it is here that the Troika will surely make Greek life a living hell as it returns with demands that force the government to shortly vote on a “deal” that has far greater austerity embedded in it.
First, Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported that Greece’s international creditors view the country’s reform proposals as insufficient to meet agreed budget surplus targets, citing assessment paper provided to euro-area finance ministers by the Troika. FAS adds that the “new plan insufficient in light of “significant deterioration of macro economic and financial conditions” in Greece. As a reminder, Greece hopes to achieve a 2015 surplus target of 1% in 2015 rising to 3.5% by 2018. This is not going to happen and everyone in Europe knows this.
In fact, Greece will be lucky to be able to ever reopen its banks again.
Europe’s hard-line stance was confirmed on several more occasions. First, the Deputy Finance Minister of the Netherlands Eric Wiebes said that “the Greeks have made a step but at the same time we notice that the institutions are critical about the proposal” adding that “we have serious concerns on the power of the Greek government to implement but also the commitment because we’re discussing a proposal that looks very much like a proposal that less than a week ago was largely rejected.”
The logic continued: “the Greek govt said then it was in Greek interest to reject it. There are large concerns about that and that’s what we will discuss.”
This position was echoed by Estonian Finance Minister Sven Sester who said that “Greece faces the hardest work at home because there is still lack of trust that even agreed reforms can be fulfilled eventually.”
Considering that as part of its Third bailout proposal, Greece promised the implement reforms pledged in 2010, one can see why Europe is skeptical this isn’t just another ploy by the Greeks to have the banks reopened so the depositors can withdraw the remaining money and then pull the plug on Europe once more.